No, I’m not addicted to the Matrix trilogy. But my style in street photography is based on this simple but powerful principle: keep your eyes open for the woman in the red dress. But what does that mean? After reading this article you’ll know the three steps to scenic street photography.
Get yourself a stunning background
This is how I actually started out with this way of working: I took photos of (mostly urban) landscapes. Although I liked the photos, I still got the feeling something was missing. The images were okay, solid you know, but after a while, I started to imagine: what would happen if I put a woman in a red dress over there?
It would make the whole picture so much more interesting. A solid, but a bit boring urban landscape would become an interesting scene.
Look at this shot. Without the man standing in the bottom, it feels too empty to me. The sky is enchanting and the architecture of the building goes really well with the ambiance. But it’s just not enough to keep my attention for more than a few seconds.
Then there she is! The woman in the red dress! (Although, she looks more like a railway guard taking a smoke). In my opinion, he really makes the difference and he is the only reason I kept the photo.
Should there be a red dressed lady in all your shots?
Well, no. Obviously, the woman in the red dress is just a metaphor for one or more photogenic persons in your photo. And photogenic comes in many ways. I’ll show you some of the different women in red dresses I shot over the years.
I used the same formula here. I waited at this interesting wall for more than 15 minutes. When I was about to give up, she appeared in the distance as my woman in red: with her hair in the exact same color as the flowers on the wall in the back.
This picture features the majestic Duomo in Florence. But I felt it needed something else. For me, this couple standing in front of the Duomo was the addition to make the photo more than just a holiday snapshot.
When I saw the thick snow curtain falling down like this, I immediately started the hunt for the perfect lady in red. However, just falling snow isn’t that interesting. There was practically no one out, except for several elderly people who were shuffling their way towards the theater. This couple, in particular, caught my eye because of their colorful umbrella. On most days that wouldn’t be a woman in the red dress for me. But in a world of white, this single spark of color did the trick for me.
How can you do this? In just three steps:
1. Start looking for interesting decor. It could be an interesting background, beautiful light or just any setting that would look better with a photogenic person in there.
2. Now be patient and let the magic happen.
3. Timing is everything! Wait carefully and capture the decisive moment.